Item Details

Mutual (mis)understanding in interpreting in consultations between Turkish immigrant patients and Dutch general practitioners

Issue: Vol 15 No. 2 (2018) Special Issue: Interpreter-Mediated Healthcare Encounters

Journal: Communication & Medicine

Subject Areas: Healthcare Communication Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/cam.38673


The aim of this exploratory study is to gain insight into
the quality of translations of informal interpreters for
Turkish immigrant patients consulting Dutch general
practitioners. Several questions are addressed: what
role does the interpreter take in the medical trialogue,
and what is his/her ‘status’?; in what way does the
interpreter stimulate or hinder communicative interaction?;
and what kinds of miscommunication can be
observed, and what are the underlying causes? Data
consisted of 16 transcripts of video-recorded medical
interviews. Stretches of discourse from eight interviews
with good mutual understanding (externally assessed)
between patient and doctor were compared with eight
interviews with poor mutual understanding. The discourse
analysis focused on (1) role-taking behaviour of
interpreter, (2) miscommunication and its causes, (3)
changes in the translation, (4) additional information
and (5) side-talk activities. Findings show substantial
differences between the two datasets. In the case of
‘poor mutual understanding’, the instances of miscommunication
far exceeded those characterised as
‘good mutual understanding’. Content omissions and
side-talk activities seemed to hinder good mutual
understanding. This study contributes to knowledge
about how informal interpreters stimulate or hinder
the medical interaction process.

Author: Sione Twilt, Ludwien Meeuwesen, Jan D. ten Thije, Hans Harmsen

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